There’s been a lot of back and forth in Shipley at the moment on Community Development (CD) funding and as is so often the case it can be hard to split fact from opinion.
With that in mind, here are some facts about CD funding in Shipley:
- Four community centres currently receive CD funding in Shipley constituency, Kirkgate Community Centre in Shipley, Baildon Community Link in Baildon and North-East Windhill Community Association (NEWCA) and Bolton Woods Community Centre (BWCC) both in Windhill & Wrose
- Two options were put forward to Shipley Area Committee (SAC) for a decision on how to split the CD money devolved to the Tory-controlled SAC from the Labour-run Council
- Option one was put forward by council officers and split the available funding equally between the four community centres, which would continue the proportions as it exists currently. The CD workers who receive the funding all agreed they were satisfied with this arrangement
- Option two was put forward by the Conservative Chair, Cllr Heseltine. This option reduced the amount available for the Windhill & Wrose community centres by £6,000 and redistributed it to the Shipley and Baildon community centres. He initially proposed reducing the amount for Windhill & Wrose by several thousand pounds more
- The vote on this was as follows: Two Tory votes in favour of allowing option two, one Labour vote against and one Green abstention. Cllr Love of the Greens had made clear his opposition to Option two but abstained, arguing that forcing a tied vote would still allow Cllr Heseltine to use his casting vote to push through option two
- Community Development money is intended to be distributed with regard to statistics on deprivation, gathered to national standards, to help communities in poorer areas become stronger and more self-reliant
- One of the quickest ways to determine levels of deprivation is to look at what are known as Lower Super-Output Areas (LSOA). These map statistics for an area, and you can use them to look at, for instance, areas among the top 20% of deprivation in the country
- Shipley constituency has eight LSOAs in the top 20% for deprivation in the country. Six of these are in Windhill. One is on the border of Shipley and Lower Baildon, and the other is on the border of Shipley and Bingley. There are no 20% LSOAs in Bingley Rural or Wharfedale
- Splitting the CD funding on this basis would give the Windhill community centres 75% of the funding. The remaining 25% would go to Kirkgate and Baildon with Kirkgate getting the majority to reflect their work in the remaining two LSOAs while Baildon would operate partially in one
- This is not what was on the table or what anyone was arguing for. Option one kept the existing arrangement where half went to Kirkgate and Baildon while option two took an additional £6,000 from Windhill and Wrose on top of this
- The SAC voted for option two
- Most CD workers felt option two compromised their ability to deliver the targeted outputs SAC are asking. For instance, Kirkgate have been doing work in the LSOA described above of Shipley/Lower Baildon and have succeeded in attracting additional funding to augment their work here but will not now be funded for this by the CD money. Under option two this now transfers to Baildon. Kirkgate also felt that dividing the funding in an unequal manner made it harder to work together with CD workers across Shipley when the funding was unequal
- After the first meeting, I ‘called in’ the vote, as there had been little debate on option two in the meeting and I believed the committee under-estimated the effect it would have on CD worker’s ability to deliver outcomes for their areas
- The decision was reviewed at the Corporate & Overview Scrutiny Committee, who sent the decision back for reconsideration at the SAC, stating that they believed not enough consideration had been given to the deprivation statistics, particularly for Windhill & Wrose. This was a unanimous and cross-party decision with Labour, Conservative and ex-Respect Cllrs voting in favour
- At the second SAC the vote went the same way as before with Shipley Conservatives, holding a majority of votes, deciding on option two
- Conservative councillors justified their decision by stating that areas like Baildon and Wharfedale (both covered by Baildon Community Link) have significant problems with isolation among the elderly and that this required additional funding to deal with
- Public Health data, available for free online, shows that deprivation and isolation among older people is a bigger problem in Windhill & Wrose than it is in either Baildon or Wharfedale. Deprivation data shows Wharfedale is one of the least deprived wards in all of Bradford
- Baildon Community Link receives over £24,000 a year direct from the Council’s Community Development Unit for daycare work with older people in addition to their core CD grant. No other community centre receives this amount, although Bolton Woods Community Centre receives £1,000 a year for a luncheon club for the elderly
- Baildon Community Link also receives £10,000 a year direct from the Council’s Community Development Unit for additional work with 11-13 year olds
- Bradford Council distributes CD funding across Bradford according to the same deprivation data referenced above. This shows Shipley is the least-deprived constituency in all Bradford.
- The Conservative-led government has cut all of their funding for CD work, meaning the Labour-run Council now has to spread it’s share of the funding even further. Although the funding from the Council has been reduced in light of ongoing Government budget cuts, the Council has maintained some level of funding for CD work.
- In light of the fall in funding for Shipley based on deprivation data, the Council has provided a transitional fund to Shipley for this year
- Despite this, the SAC Chair, Cllr Heseltine, justified his decision to cut funding from Windhill & Wrose to the Telegraph & Argus by saying Shipley constituency got a poor deal from Bradford Council, so if Windhill & Wrose wanted extra funding the Council should give Shipley more money overall
These are the facts, I’ve tried to strip opinion out of them as much as possible. I thought it would be useful to have it all laid out as sadly many of the debates we’ve had at Shipley Area Committee regurgitate the same old opinions regardless of what data is put forward by officers or from elsewhere.
I should stress none of the facts above sway me from my opinion that deprivation exists in some form in all communities, and therefore should be addressed where possible by CD funding. I believe option one would have provided that.
The argument was more on the scale of deprivation in certain areas and how the funding should be distributed with consideration to what other services were already being provided in the area.
The argument is done for this year, but presumably we’ll be back around the table next year to go over it all again. The joys of politics!